PNP says GOJ diplomacy has broken with tradition

Friday, January 11, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — People's National Party (PNP) spokesperson on foreign affairs and foreign trade Lisa Hanna says Jamaica's vote yesterday in the Organisation of the American States (OAS) has departed from the traditional principles on which the nation has relied for decades.

Jamaica voted with 18 other members of the Permanent Council of the OAS to not recognise the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro's second term as president of Venezuela.

Hanna said the move has brought the country's image in the international community to disgrace

"Jamaica has always stood firm on principles in forging its international diplomatic relationships. Central to these principles, she said, has been a commitment to non-interference in the internal affairs of all nations and the peaceful resolution of disputes," she said in a statement today.

“As a consequence, Jamaica has been able to build a wide ranging set of relationships and alliances which among other things has made us a central player in the movement of non-aligned states. We are friends of many and the enemy of none.”

Hanna further outlined that throughout the country's history and even until today, Jamaica, as an independent country, has maintained wide ranging relationships with diverse countries with differing political systems, ideologies and electoral arrangements.

The maintenance of these relationships has never meant validation of the particular policies or internal political arrangements of the various states with whom we have relations, she added.

“Jamaica has always shown assertive, courageous and enlightened leadership in our foreign policy and diplomacy. As a result, we have developed an enviable reputation of courage and activism in the international arena. Our consistent approach in taking decisions on the basis of principle has served us well, earning Jamaica respect in matters of foreign diplomacy. Our views have been highly sought by our allies,” the Opposition spokesperson said.

She reiterated that the government's vote to withdraw recognition of Venezuela at the Special Meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) is a complete reversal of Jamaica's policy towards the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a policy that was sustained by both PNP and Jamaica Labout Party administrations.

Hanna said on the face of it, it now appears that the decision of the government of Jamaica to hastily announce the seizure by legislation of the Venezuelan-owned shares in Petrojam before exhausting all avenues for mediation and arbitration as provided for in the Stakeholders' Agreement was connected to the government's prior decision to withdraw recognition of the Venezuelan Government.

“This is reprehensible conduct on the part of the Jamaican government, especially given the deep historical friendship and association between both countries for more than 40 years," Hanna said, noting that while there may be clear difference with aspects of policy or internal arrangements in Venezuela, it is undeniable that they have been a helpful friend to Jamaica. She further reasoned that the country can recall that when the price of oil was prohibitively high, Venezuela extended a helpful hand through PetroCaribe.

“It is also noteworthy that in various periods of natural disasters, they have come to the assistance of the Jamaican people, so the People's National Party believes they deserve to be treated with respect and honour. This is certainly not the way to treat the people or government that has been a hemispheric partner for Jamaica through Petro Caribe, the debt buy-back, through periods of national disaster,” Hanna said.

She also pointed out that the position of the PNP is that disputes between countries and different political factions should be resolved through peaceful means.

“We remind that the party had urged CARICOM to use its good offices to bring about a resolution to the Venezuelan dispute. By its action yesterday, Jamaica would have forfeited the possibility of acting as an honest broker. Instead the government seems intent on joining others in their hostile attitude towards a country and government which has extended goodwill to us," Hanna said.

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